A year after my first afternoon tea experience, I wanted to try hosting my own tea party. I decided to invite my friend S. over to have tea at my home, in the garden.
I consider myself a decent cook/baker so this little tea party was more of an exercise in creating a pretty table setting, rather than about food. Since I don’t own real china, I got creative with my everyday tableware by supplementing it with a tablecloth, napkin rings, doilies, and a centerpiece with flowers from the garden.
I was very excited about the prospect of planning a tea party and was deep in the stages of planning when I received a handwritten note from S. (how Victorian of her!) in response to my tea party invitation. To my surprise and disappointment, she had declined my invitation!
I was determined to host my first tea party and against my own sense and sensibilities, I confronted S. about declining my invitation. It turned out she felt that she did not have the “proper clothing” for tea and could not justify her presence at such a “fancy” event with untold number of elegant ladies. Interestingly enough, this is not an uncommon misconception about afternoon tea, that one must dress to the nines in order to participate. It is fun and appropriate to dress up nicely for afternoon tea but fancy dress is neither expected nor mandatory. Similar to choosing the appropriate outfit for a wedding, you can’t go wrong if you dress for the appropriate occasion/theme, venue, or time of day.
I assured S. that the tea “party” was only for two (I know my friends well! 😉 ), and that “fancy tea attire and hats” were optional. She showed up on the appointed day/hour in a summery dress and even a sunhat. 🙂 It was indeed a charming tea party for two.